Since 1995, Nkum Associates has been engaged in local governance and decentralisation initiatives at the national, regional, district and sub-district levels in Ghana, Lesotho, South Africa, Uganda, and Malawi. These services have included initiatives for aligning and integrating Chieftaincy or Traditional Authority systems with formal Local Government systems. The devolution, de-concentration or any form of delegation of Central government authority or powers, functions, responsibilities, resources, and means to the periphery (namely, regions, district and sub-district structures) has proved in practice to be more complicated than usually heralded. Over the years, Nkum Associates has been involved in tailoring decentralisation initiatives to specific national governance cultures and political realities.
Our primary orientation in decentralisation and local governance is to ensure the fine-tuning of mechanisms that enhance the functional alignment among four key pillars of decentralisation, whether it is devolution or de-concentration:
- Decentralisation entails devolution of political and administrative powers and ensuring appropriate flows of resources to sub-national governance structures for the purpose of making them economically viable and sustainable units of local government
- Decentralisation, when properly managed, provides minority populations easier and affordable access to government
- Decentralisation is a way towards balanced and equitable socio-economic development for all population segments in a national space
We believe that a poly-centric approach to the development of national spaces, and attention to local economic development through decentralised governance and resource allocation promotes more citizen participation and ensures more sustainable development.
Decentralisation that works seeks to make municipal service provision and citizens’ access to essential services efficient and cost-effective. It closes the gap between citizens and government, making it possible to address minority needs more proactively.